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Derby preview

Yeah, I know, rather late...

(Getty Images)


Betfred Derby
1m4f, Group 1, 3yo
Epsom, 1330 BST
approx £1.5m.
Going - good to firm

Adelaide River - named after a small town in the Northern Territory, about an hour south of Darwin. Winner on debut at Dundalk, but only placed in remaining four starts, over 6L behind Dubai Mile and Arrest at most recent starts. Has only raced on wet tracks when on turf, but his sire won his pair of Derbys on good and good-to-firm ground. Not hopeless. 

Arrest - won the Chester Vase by an eased-down 6.5L last month ahead of Adelaide River. There's concern over his alleged preference for soft ground and a high-knee action. Not overly bothered about that, the bigger query for me is the depth of that Chester race. Frankie's last Derby - can he do the double after winning yesterday?

Artistic Star - by Galileo out of star Australian mare Nechita, he has won both starts to date, a maiden and a novice. Will stand out in running with his three white socks. Nice colt but this is a huge step up, might contend in a nice handicap at Royal Ascot.

Auguste Rodin - the boom Coolmore colt whose bubble was burst when he flopped in the 2000 Guineas. That run was too bad to be true, but it takes a massive leap of faith to forgive that and back him with confidence here. Note - due to transport strikes, the stable were forced to alter their travel routine getting to Newmarket, that can affect some horses more than others, but this is a stable which travels horses around the world regularly. Achieved some massive ratings late in his 2yo campaign, notably on soft tracks, but just about every race late in the season was rain-afffected. Regally-bred, could be the new wonder stallion if that Guineas run can be put behind him. 

Dear My Friend - enjoy the day Middleham Park Racing syndicate, because he's got no hope.

Dubai Mile - the second of the Johnston runners, with a significantly better chance. Fifth in the Guineas, he narrowly beat Arrest in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud (1m2f) and finished just behind The Foxes in the Royal Lodge. Slight concern on his stamina, both parents didn't quite get this distance but trust the trainer, the family have had bolters in the frame before.

King of Steel - another lightly raced Amo Racing 3yo in a Classic, after Maman Joon ran a solid fourth yesterday at 50/1. Easy win on debut, then well beaten in heavy going behind Auguste Rodin in the G1 Futurity. Would have run in the Dante but was a bit naughty at the gates. If you have faith, play late as he could be one who gets wound up if there are any protesters around.

Military Order - looking to become the first brother of a Derby winner to triumph since siblings won in 1896 and 1900. Has won his last three starts, including the Derby Trial at Lingfield, run on the AW, in nice fashion over Waipiro (did get a dream inside run off the bend), but the concern over him is the form of the stable. A quiet month leading into the big days is nothing to worry about for a leading stable but Hurricane Lane and Eternal Pride were both awful yesterday - that's giving away a five-length headstart in my book.

Passenger - has been supplemented (meaning the owners paid a shitload of me to be a late entry, as they didn't expect him to be this good when entries closed a long, long time ago. They don't usually pay up unless they really think they can win, even if the owners are loaded). Just the two starts under his belt, an easy win in the Wood Ditton (for unraced 3yos) at Newmarket and an unlucky dead-heat third in the Dante, behind The Foxes, when he was repeatedly blocked for a run in the straight. Connections have stuck with Richard Kingscote, he's trained by Sir Michael Stoute who won last year with Desert Crown, and he will have learned plenty from that run at York. Big show.

San Antonio - has kicked on as a 3yo winning both starts after moderate performances as a juvenile. It was a handy win in the Dee Stakes at Chester without being anything special, but he could be spurred on by the tougher test here. 

Sprewell - another NBA-themed runner, his champion miler sire isn't renowned for stayers but there's plenty of stamina on the dam side. All his runs to date have been on soft or heavy but I put that down to circumstance more than planning. He won the Leopardstown Derby Trial in good style beating a swathe of O'Brien family runners. He will be a great story if he wins, being trained by Jessica Harrington who is facing a tough battle with breast cancer. Right in this.

The Foxes - another colt by Churchill who, in two runs this season, has run second in the Craven and won the Dante at York. He kept on to win the latter, rather than running away with it, but the stable thinks he might be one of those horses who switches off when he hits the front, so he just needs to be produced late. That might work here, but if they are strung out like Brown's cows down the straight as often happens at Epsom, he might not have that choice.

Waipiro - oddly-named colt as Waipiro (or Waipiro Bay) is in New Zealand rather than Australia (his sire) but anyway... He bolted in at the Craven meeting, winning a novice at 25/1, then was thrust into the Derby Trial at Lingfield and pushed Military Order right to the line, over this trip. He's entitled to improve from that, just his third run. Under-rated trainer and jockey.

White Birch - Irish raider from outside the O'Brien empire. Won the Ballysax in April, ahead of Up And Under who was beaten a bit further by Sprewell next time out, then went down a neck to The Foxes in the Dante. Proven on wet and dry, no doubts on stamina, would be higher in the betting if trained by a bigger name.


A wide-open Derby which makes a change on recent years. With question marks on the favoured runners, I'll look a bit wider (just for a change). Shock winners in Classics, particularly the Oaks and Derby, aren't rare because for most, it's a new test in distance and pressure, and horses can rapidly improve at this period in their careers.

Sprewell and Waipiro top my thinking with Passenger close behind. Throwing in The Foxes and White Birch for the exotics.

Back Sprewell 12/1 e-w

Back Waipiro 33/1 e-w


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